Jules – Devil Blues on the Rock (Jamendo)
I like the idea of modern Blues, especially when it’s emerging from the CC world. Call me a cynic, or just a miserable bastard, but there’s never enough morbid, grinding, despairing music around when you need it and even if the old Delta standards still offer the ideal backing track for an evening of wearing black, chain smoking and lamenting the evil deeds of that woman who done you wrong to a world weary barman who’s wiping down spit stained shot glasses with a grey and grubby rag they’re never quite enough.
And of course I do mean Delta Blues when I declare my fondness for the idea of Blues because, usually unfortunately, the world continues to offer up a ready supply of Chicago/Electric inspired strummers who mix the throbbing, dirge like rhythyms of those original miserable blind black guys with any number of other, more modern, genres. Blues-Rock, Blues influenced Dance, Bluesy-Folk, even Punk Blues; all of which no doubt have their place in the universe but still, amidst all that it’s easy to long for a proper dose of depression with a proper acoustic guitar and a proper chain-smoking, gravel voiced old bastard at the helm. And it was that minor and coincidental yearning which moved me to download this EP length album which, on paper at least, is about as true to the Blues ideal as it’s possible to be.
The EP title and the track titles (Lady’s Gone, Devil Song, Morning Headache) both suggest that you’re going to be in for a purist Blues session and the obligatory bout of depression that should accompany such. In fact for the first couple of tracks you can almost believe that that’s the case. It’s a little more cluttered that might be hoped, plus it’s electric, plus the vocals stray into the saner territories of Tom Waits and the singer’s French of course, not that that’s any real problem, but together they all make for a fairly modern-moden Blues experience, as opposed to an evolution of the Delta tradition. The idea’s there though, in some faded form and the singer’s voice stands out beyond the clutter enough to make it his work, his personality that’s stamped on top and that’s personality enough to validate the experience.
That’s a balance which, where it stands, makes for a solid enough EP, the traces of the genres best qualities are noticable enough to merit attention although that really is largely down to Jules’ voice as opposed to the music itself which is, whilst not unpleasant, not particularly interesting either; it lacks the character of traditional, filthy Delta stuff and if you’re trying to emulate more modern influences then you should really attempt something more original than this. But hey, Blues as Blues is rare enough these days and at least this is something.
Things do stray into the realms of Funk a little at times, in a passable sort of way but it’s just a musically uninspiring background to a decent Blues singer really, nicely crafted and very listenable but not enough to really demand attention or investment from the listener.